Biotech Updates

Single Gene Causes Susceptibility to Two Major Pests in Wheat

July 16, 2010

A team of researchers led by Justin Faris of the Agricultural Research Service discovered that a single gene (Tsn1) in wheat causes susceptibility to two major fungi pests- Pyrenophora tritici-repentis (also known as tan spot) and Stagonospora nodorum (leaf blotch). These two fungi are often found to infest the same crop fields and producing the same toxin, ToxA, to promote programmed cell death (PCD). The team also developed DNA molecular markers for Tsn1 to ease the elimination of the gene by selective breeding. According to Faris, once the gene is eliminated from the cultivars, the devastating fungi would not have the means to kill the leaf tissues of wheat.

Together with other scientists from seven other organizations, they analyzed the DNA sequence of Tsn1 and exposed that the gene is controlled by the wheat's circadian clock. The PCD response to ToxA only occurs during daytime, which may mean that it can affect photosynthesis of wheat.

See the press release at